As schools kick off a new academic year, law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in El Paso have joined hands to remind parents, students, and the community that threats aimed at schools will not be tolerated. The multi-agency collaboration vows to treat every threat seriously, mobilizing substantial resources to address and defuse potential dangers.
In a recent press release, officials highlighted the alarming increase in school threats nationwide, with a staggering 60% rise in reported threats to the FBI in 2022 compared to the previous year. Locally, law enforcement agencies in El Paso faced the daunting task of addressing at least three threats per day from schools in Region 19 school districts during the same period.
Social Media Vigilance and Responsibility
One crucial aspect of this joint endeavor is the emphasis on community involvement. Officials urge immediate reporting to law enforcement if a threat is detected on social media platforms. However, the release warns against forwarding the threatening content to others, as it can exacerbate community fear and hinder law enforcement’s ability to distinguish between new threats and previously shared ones.
Unified Effort for Student Safety
Statements from key officials within the agencies underscore the collaborative nature of this initiative. El Paso Independent School District Chief of Police Manuel Chavira emphasized that unity and consistency among law enforcement partners are instrumental in safeguarding students and maintaining community vitality. El Paso Police Department Interim Police Chief Peter Pacillas further warned against the grave consequences of false alarms, stressing that threats, regardless of their origin, will be met with an immediate and thorough investigation.
El Paso County District Attorney Bill Hicks reaffirmed the commitment to prosecuting those responsible for school threats, underscoring the penalties’ severity. Threats culminating in actions, such as bringing firearms to schools, can lead to 3rd Degree Felony charges, leading to a 10-year prison term.
Community Involvement and Reporting
The broader community is called upon to play an active role in maintaining school safety. Law enforcement agencies have established several avenues for reporting threats: immediate threats to life should be reported via 911, while other tips can be shared with preferred law enforcement agencies. The City of El Paso offers various reporting methods that are monitored around the clock, including calling (915) 832-4400, texting 847-411 with “EPPD and then tip,” and using the “El Paso PD” app for texting tips and receiving alerts. Additionally, the FBI can receive tips at tips.fbi.gov or by calling (915) 832-5000.
A United Front Against Violence
This multi-agency effort aims to guarantee that schools remain secure learning and development environments. FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey, speaking from his roles as a law enforcement officer and a parent, underscores the significance of vigilance and communication. He encourages parents to converse with their children about school safety and promptly report concerns to authorities.
The collaboration extends beyond local agencies, as El Paso Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Luis Gonzalez acknowledges officials’ collective determination nationwide to curtail school violence. He emphasizes that commitment and collaboration are the only ways to achieve a safe and peaceful learning environment.
As El Paso and its surrounding areas enter a new academic year, the community is reminded that everyone has a role to play in preserving the safety of its students. Through active reporting, responsible social media behavior, and a united effort among law enforcement agencies, parents, students, and officials alike can work together to ensure that schools remain nurturing environments where growth and learning can thrive without the looming shadow of threats.
Monica is the founder and publisher of Black El Paso Voice. She is an advocate fighting against racism and embracing positive community involvement. She is a lover of God, Puerto Rican cuisine, and the greatest defender of her family. She also enjoy House Music and swears it’s the best music on the planet!